Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Infrastructure Press Briefing
The White House
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Thank you, Sarah.
I’ve also brought with me today two officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation — Derek Kan, Undersecretary of Policy and Jim Ray, the Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Infrastructure. They are here because of this gift.
As many of you heard yesterday, 12 federal agencies have been working with the White House on the comprehensive infrastructure proposal the President announced yesterday. Transportation is just one component. The proposal includes energy, drinking and waste water, broadband, and veterans’ hospitals as well.
The goal of the President’s proposal is to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment, which includes a minimum of $200 billion in direct federal funding. A key element is to empower decision making at the state and local level, because state and local officials know best the infrastructure needs of their communities.
Many of you already have heard about the principles behind this proposal, but let me share them with you again, briefly. They are to:
1) use federal dollars as seed money to encourage infrastructure investment by the states, localities and private sector;
2) provide for the infrastructure needs of rural communities;
3) streamline project delivery; and
4) invest in transformative projects that benefit everyone.
We’re already applying these principles to the Transportation Department’s major existing infrastructure grant programs—TIGER and INFRA. The President has generously decided to donate a portion of his annual salary to the Department’s “INFRA” grant program. INFRA directly reflects the President’s proposal by providing dedicated, discretionary funding for projects that address critical issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges. Under the INFRA program, states and localities that secure some funding or financing of their own are given higher priority access to federal funds. In addition, INFRA also reserves at least 25 percent of its funding to be awarded to rural projects.
Infrastructure is the backbone of our economy, and key to keeping our country competitive. The President’s proposal will create new jobs, strengthen our economy and improve quality of life for everyone.
With that quick summary, I will take a few questions.